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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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The Life of a Woman, Directed by Women: A Video Essay

Editing this piece started out for me as a compelling intellectual exercise: is it possible to trace the overarching moments of a woman's life using only clips of films directed by women? What would that look like? It felt like a fun challenge, but the process of research, collecting clips and editing them together turned out to be a deeply moving experience. The sheer breadth of content to create this composite life was staggering, both in terms of time and space; this video contains clips from filmmakers on every continent over the span of 122 years. 

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I started a list with about 100 films and directors. I searched for moments from as many of these films as I could find and started editing, collecting more clips as I went based on gaps, curiosity, rabbit holes of research, or the feeling that something was missing in a certain section. Not everything made it into the final version, in fact more was left out than included. This is an exercise that could be re-examined daily, each time with different results, and this makes me incredibly optimistic. As a female filmmaker it is easy to get discouraged in the face of all the statistics, but putting this together, and seeing in condensed form the work of over a century women using film as a medium for expression, gives me much hope.


The Life of a Woman, Directed by Women from emma piper-burket on Vimeo.

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